The main ways the public can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are at the personal level, said Armando Meza, M.D., chief of infectious diseases and associate academic dean of graduate medical education at the TTUHSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
This includes hand washing, social distancing, self-quarantines and preparing your home for possible COVID-19 exposure.
One of the simplest ways people can help prevent the virus’ spread is by thoroughly washing their hands.
“If you’re going to wash your hands with soap and water, you can use regular soap and tap water,” Dr. Meza said. “You want to spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands and covering all the surfaces as much as possible. When you dry your hands, use a dry towel or paper towel, making sure that all surfaces are dry before you touch any object. It is important that once you have shut off the faucet, or anything on the sink, that you don’t touch those surfaces again, as they may be contaminated.”
Another way people can reduce the possibility of infection is through social distancing.
“Social distancing is the action government health departments take in asking the public to avoid exposure to an infectious agent,” Dr. Meza said. “That includes limiting activities that are not essential to our lives. We may be invited or given the opportunity to go places with a large gathering of people. If we avoid that, it would be very helpful.”
Self-quarantine measures will become necessary if a person has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. Self-quarantine is the voluntary isolation, usually at home, of a person after potential exposure to an infectious agent. An example is staying home after returning from a trip to a high-risk country classified as a Travel Warning Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Two weeks is currently the recommended time to self-quarantine,” Dr. Meza said. “To stay in quarantine, essentials such as water, food and personal-care items should be available during this time period. In your home, stay away from any family members that may be at high risk for severe infection, such as the elderly or anyone with lung or heart disease.”
Dr. Meza emphasizes that preparedness on a personal level is key.
“Most importantly, stay educated on this condition by regularly reviewing reliable information found on the CDC website,” Dr. Meza said. “Avoid overstocking of supplies, since this will create a shortage crisis in the community. You should also keep your home clean, especially your kitchen and bathroom. Use of commercially available antimicrobial towels and sprays is appropriate.”
For more information on COVID-19, answers to frequently asked questions and helpful resources, visit TTUHSC El Paso’s COVID-19 website at ttuhscep.edu/coronavirus.
Learn more about COVID-19 and steps to prevent infection by watching the videos below: